Winter sports thrive in Michigan offering some of the finest snowboarding in the Midwest.
Nub’s Nob Ski Resort near Harbor Springs was voted #1 for terrain parks and #4 for grooming by SKI Magazine, based on the 2007 Readers Resort Survey. It’s the only Midwestern location to have received three North American SKI Gold Medals. This snowsport hotspot in northwest Lower Peninsula is known for stellar snowboard half pipes and the state’s first super pipe, as well as the region’s first free Learn-to-Ski/Snowboard area, complete with its own chairlift. It also boasts 248 acres of skiing on 53 slopes, and 28K of cross-country trails, including a 2K loop lit at night. Keeping it all in top condition are 242 snow guns. New this year: more rails than ever, several step up jumps at the top of the steep section on the rider’s left, a relocation of the skier/boarder cross course from Southwest Passage into the park itself with more banked turns and a longer course and the building of a second smaller pipe given favorable weather conditions.
Nearby in this corner of Michigan, Boyne Mountain and Boyne Highlands resorts both offer terrain parks suited for beginners and advanced snowboarders. Start at the Mountain’s Ramshead Park before working your way up to the challenges of North Boyne Park and its Zaugg Superpipe, which, at over 700′ long, Boyne boasts is the longest superpipe in North America. The fun begins at Boyne Highlands’ Funland and progresses to Heather Rail Yard. Then take on the recently spruced up Challenger Park, with its new 13′ Zaugg Halfpipe, and when you’re really ready head to McGully Park. Rentals and lessons available for all levels at the SnowSports Academy. (The beginner ski and snowboard area is free.) Between the two mountains there are 111 downhill runs plus 80 km of cross-country ski trails, and many other outdoor activities, including skating, dogsledding and sleigh rides. The resorts offer indoor and outdoor pools, Avalanche Bay indoor waterpark and Solace Spa.
Shanty Creek Resort, a year round resort in Bellaire, features 49 slopes on two mountains (Summit and Schuss), 21km of cross-country skiing, a spa and family programs. Last year it upgraded its four terrain parks with several new rails, jumps and hits while increasing the length, height and overall “kick” of the quarter pipe at Schuss Mountain. New this year is a park on Elf Shelf. It will offer features for the first time park user wanting to learn the skills necessary on how to ride rails and take small jumps in a separate, learner friendly setting. Village Way is the place to hone freestyle skills. It offers several smaller jumps, a variety of lower and easier to ride rails, with lots of rollers, dips and turns. The largest terrain park is Purple Daze and contains the resorts biggest jumps and a selection of the slickest rails and boxes. Also new this season is a 30′ A-frame box top rail. Various jibs, tabletop and hip/spine jumps may also be featured throughout the season.
Snowboarders at Crystal Mountain in Thompsonville can choose from a variety of challenges on its 14 runs. Now in its 50th year, Crystal features 45 downhill slopes, more than 40km of cross-country trails, and designation as the #1 Resort in the Midwest by SKI Magazine in 2005. Crystal Mountain has increased its snowmaking capability by 30% not only reducing its reliance on natural snowfall but improving the rate at which it can open and maintain skiable terrain. The resort now boasts 126 snowguns with the addition of four new Polecat snowguns and one Viking snowgun.
Across the Michigan “mitt” at Treetops Resort snowboarders are welcome on any of its 23 downhill runs as well as the quarter pipe and jumps and tabletops of the terrain park. New this year, the resort has expanded the terrain park with a designated beginner and intermediate section.
Great snowboarding isn’t limited to northern Michigan. In the Detroit Metro area Pine Knob keeps its three snowboarding parks in shape with its Top Gun snowmaker fleet. Pine Knob also increased the number of snow guns by 15 percent to insure that there is ample snow on the slopes. Other Southeast Michigan ski hills that welcome snowboarders include Alpine Valley in White Lake, Mt. Brighton and Mt. Holly.
In the Southwestern Lower Peninsula, try Swiss Valley Ski Area and terrain park, located in Jones, and Pando Winter Sports Park in Rockford. A sampling of other public parks that welcome snowboarders includes…
- Hanson Hills Recreation Area in Grayling
- Petoskey Winter Sports Park
- Hickory Hills Ski Area in Traverse City
- Stony Creek Metropark in the Detroit area